『私たちの主イエス・キリストの父なる神、慈愛の父、すべての慰めの神がほめたたえられますように。神は、どのような苦しみのときにも、私たちを慰めてくださいます。こうして、私たちも、自分自身が神から受ける慰めによって、どのような苦しみの中にいる人をも慰めることができるのです。それは、私たちにキリストの苦難があふれているように、慰めもまたキリストによってあふれているからです。』II コリンと １:３─５（新改訳）
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.” II Corinthians 1:3-5 (NRSV)
As news from suffering friends and those seeking to minister to them continues to pour in from Japan, I am constantly reminded that we are not pioneers for God in the situation. Instead, I believe the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation is already among the suffering in Tohoku, Japan. We are not called to represent God. We are called to join him.
And I can’t help but think that the God of all consolation does not leverage human suffering as an opportunity to establish an institution. I pray that Christians never interpret the real suffering of other human beings as a great “chance” for the gospel.
This is not an opportunity for the gospel. This is a call to live out the gospel.
This is not an opportunity to plant a church. This is a call to be the church–the living body of Christ.
This is not an opportunity for the strong to minister to the weak. This is a call for all of us to recognize our own weakness, and to embrace God’s strength in order to extend love, hope, and hopefully a warm meal and place to sleep to fellow humans.
Even as Jesus took up the towel of slavery to serve those who would shortly desert and betray him, my prayer is that we will serve the Japanese with the deepest humility. In their suffering may we see our own mortality and recognize that at any moment (and certainly at some moment) each of us could (and will) lose all of our material possessions and be separated by physical death from our loved ones. In our common weakness then, let us lean on the God of mercies together.
Jesus didn’t serve people in order to establish an institution. He loved people, and by this love a community of his followers was born. He calls on this church, his body, to continue to act out his will toward all people–to love them simply because they need love, and because by loving we glorify God.
God help us serve with pure motives.